Volume IV in the series The RIAS Amadeus Quartet Recordings presents the ensemble with 20th century Hungarian and English works. The Baroque composer Henry Purcell is also represented – as a reference point for Benjamin Britten’s Second String Quartet. This edition substantially broadens the view of the Amadeus Quartet and demonstrates the inquisitiveness and assuredness with which Norbert Brainin and his three colleagues explored the music of their contemporaries.
Since the beginning of their career, the Amadeus Quartet regularly came to make recordings at the RIAS studios in Berlin. Thus a representative cross-section of the ensemble's repertoire came into being in the archive there and will be released by audite in six volumes. At the beginning of this new series is the (almost) complete Beethoven cycle, recorded during the years from 1950-1967 and now available to the public for the first time. These recordings are distinguished for the fact that each movement of a work is recorded in one continuous take.
The third volume of radio recordings with the Amadeus Quartet is dedicated to works of its eponym. From the very beginning, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s string quartets were a matter of the heart for the Amadeus Quartet. During the ensemble’s long career, which lasted for nearly 40 years, the great majority of its concert programmes contained at least one work by Mozart.
This sixth volume of the RIAS Amadeus Quartet Recordings completes the 27-CD edition. This extended version complements the 6-CD box set, providing once again a detailed survey of broadcasting history in the 1950s - to which end the entire series of the audite Amadeus Quartet recordings is ultimately directed. Joseph Haydn's string quartets, often rated as the basis for playing quartets, represented far more than an obligation to the Amadeus Quartet.
Schubert’s works remained close to the heart of the Amadeus Quartet throughout its entire life. The quartet’s approach to his youthful works was reserved and timid, whilst the great quartets of his maturity were played passionately and dramatically; in the G major Quartet, the contrasts were given special emphasis.
The fifth CD boxed set, Vol. V, from the series The RIAS Amadeus Quartet Recordings is dedicated to nineteenth-century Romantic composers. This six-volume edition presents exclusively first releases on CD. The Amadeus Quartet included a wider repertoire in the broadcasting studio than in the recording studio. Works by Edvard Grieg and Robert Schumann interpreted by the Amadeus Quartet can be heard here for the first time on CD. And five works in this edition represent novel repertoire that the Amadeus Quartet never recorded on LP: Dvorák's Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81, Grieg's String Quartet in G Minor, Op. 27, Mendelssohn's String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 12, as well as Schumann's String Quartet in A Major, Op. 41, No. 3 and Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44.
Formed by three Austrian immigrants and one youthful Londoner, the Amadeus Quartet came to prominence in postwar England. It excelled in the Classical repertoire, and its recordings in the 1950s were important contributions to the growing body of chamber music on the newly introduced LP. The process of recording on tape was a major improvement over the start-and-stop 78 rpm methods, and these clean and skillfully edited masters hold up quite well in the digital transfer. This seven-disc set follows Deutsche Grammophon's 2003 reissue of the quartet's early Mozart recordings, and covers works by Haydn, Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Brahms, thus giving a fuller representation of the group's prodigious output for Westminster and DG.
These early performances by the greatest string quartet of the 20th century are absolutely gorgeous. They may not be quite as virtuosic as the Amadeus' later stero recordings of Mozart's quartets and quintets, but they are more mellow and lyrical. Combining expert musicianship, technical mastery, gorgeous sound, vivacity, and unbelievably tight ensemble playing, the Amadeus Quartet brings out the beauty of every melodic line of Mozart's ingenious compositions and does justice to each note and ornament.
The untimely death of Peter Schidlof on 15 August 1987 resulted not only in the loss of a great violist: it also marked the end of an era in which, for almost 40 years, the Amadeus Quartet was one of the leading chamber music ensembles in the world. Together in the same formation for a longer time than any other string quartet, the four Amadeus members - Norbert Brainin, Siegmund Nissel, Peter Schidlof and Martin Lovett - were close both as musical colleagues and as friends in private life; and this artistic "marriage", born out of a special fate which brought the Amadeus together after the War, could not survive the loss of one of its partners. They had always agreed that if any member could no longer play, for whatever reason, the Quartet would not continue; and the cellist Martin Lovett expressed what his colleagues clearly fell when he said, "Peter is simply irreplaceable". Indeed, it would be impossible for anyone to take his place without completely changing the sound and character of the ensemble. The quality of their playing was marked by a unique sonority and homogeneity, which derived from a common "schooling" with the great violinist and teacher Max Postal. It had a flexibility that could shape a phrase for its full expressive, emotional effect: yet the members of the quartet each projected very individual and contrasting musical personalities.